Black History Month 2023 – our people share their stories

31 October 2023

This year, Leonardo has been marking Black History Month by embracing, appreciating and understanding Black Culture with events and seminars for colleagues hosted across our UK sites. This has been organised by our fantastic employee-led Ethnicity Inclusion network group.

As the month comes to a close, we asked the Chair of the network and 5 women in the network group to share their stories, in honour of this year’s theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’, and let us know what Black History Month means for them. Read more below.

Our Stories

Assistant Management Accountant

Project Management Degree Apprentice

Head of Programmes

Accounts Assistant

Business Development Officer

Resourcing Business Partner


"I was born in what was once a British Colony, now known as Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia. My childhood began during the liberation struggle from colonialism, leaving lasting scars but instilling resilience, creativity and compassion in me. As the eldest of four siblings, I shouldered the responsibility of caring for my family while my parents were deeply involved in the Liberation Struggle. I remained ever watchful for air raid announcements by helicopters, ensuring our safety. It was terrifying being surrounded by heavily armed Freedom Fighters; the thunderous noise of helicopters, bombs, and the chaos of those days, though it feels like just yesterday despite 42 years having passed. Two years ago, a visit to RAF Coningsby caused so many memories to come flooding back as I recalled evacuations of the children not knowing if we would ever see our parents again. We were a few of the lucky ones that were reunited to our families in 1980.

Even after our Independence, we faced challenges stemming from tribalism and racism. Thankfully, tribalism ended in 1988 when Ndebele and Shona leaders signed the Unity Pact. Our generation were more receptive to the pact, and we saw more interracial marriages as a sign that that storm had passed. These years taught me about reconciliation, unity, and community building. As political unrest in my homeland escalated, I confronted a pivotal decision. It was during these trying times that I made the courageous choice to relocate to the United Kingdom, seeking refuge and the promise of a more stable and secure life.

My journey stands as a testament to the resilience of individuals navigating the complex intersection of politics, identity, and the pursuit of a better life. It reflects my own strength and adaptability as I embarked on a new chapter in a foreign land, carrying with me the unique blend of experiences that shape my life's story, which is just a short version of so much to tell. Having spent 18 years in the company, I would say we still have work to do but we are thankful for the space that is facilitating a greater change for the future."


"I was born in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, and moved to the UK with my family in 2015. Zimbabwe has a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes and a highly diverse population; however, it still faces many economic challenges.

In 2015, the economic situation of the country was very unstable and encountered major challenges such as a hyperinflation and unemployment. Despite the economic landscape, my parents worked tirelessly to ensure that I had a good home and that I would have a secure future. They both valued the pursuit of a good education for me, as they were not fortunate enough to complete their own studies, hence the reason we moved to the UK.

I started secondary school in the second week after arriving into the UK, and I definitely experienced a major cultural shock. I felt like everything I ever grew up knowing became completely irrelevant within the space of a 7-hour school day. Despite my hardships over the years of trying to adjust to a completely new environment and culture, I kept persevering. I was lucky enough that at the end of every difficult day, I could come home to my family and fully embrace my own culture through music, dance, and traditional cuisine. During my A-levels I took on a part-time job so that I could help my family financially, this meant balancing both my studies and employment. Nevertheless, I kept up with my studies while working, following my parents’ own determination and work ethic that I watched growing up.  What started out as a challenging situation eventually became more manageable with time.

After I finished secondary school, I immediately sought after a full time job to continue my support and began working at the Nationwide Building Society. I worked as a call centre consultant, but also self-studied and attained project management qualifications. This gave me the confidence to seek out a career in project management. I applied for a Degree level Project Management Apprenticeship at Leonardo and was fortunate enough to join the company in 2021. Leonardo has provided me with a very welcoming and supportive working environment, celebrating different ethnic groups, cultures, and all walks of life. Leonardo has definitely made me feel more included within the company and I have made some great friends along the way.

It is extremely difficult to begin a new life in a new country regardless of background. My advice for anyone experiencing this transition is to take your time, learn about your new environment and most importantly embrace the change. There will be days that are harder than others, but you can’t dwell on them, each day is a new challenge and you should always face it with a smile. Keep working towards your goals as each day takes you a step closer to achieving them.

Looking back now, I still find it hard to believe how far I have come since leaving my home of 15 years. I am grateful to my parents for always supporting my decisions and demonstrating attitudes of hard work, resilience and determination in everything they pursued!"


"I am of West African descent. My parents immigrated from Nigeria to the UK when I was a baby. They settled in Peckham, which was very multicultural back in the late 80s and still is. Unfortunately, I experienced racism first hand. Being egged, having our car windows smashed and having written death threats posted through the door were a regular occurrence.

I specifically remember my parents having to install an anti-arson letter box to protect us following an incident where a firework was ignited and posted through the door. Education was the only way out. Having done very well at school and university, I found myself working within Aerospace, Defence and Security, where I have spent all of my career so far. My career has felt indulgent, with so many childhood dreams having been fulfilled, however it has come with its challenges, especially being the only person of colour in most of my engagements with colleagues.

I had to learn to speak differently and expend a lot of energy thinking of ways to build relationships and communicate in order to expand my network. Whilst I never experienced overt racism of the type I experienced during my childhood, I did regularly experience micro-aggressions which tended to reinforce feelings of not fitting in. During my early career, I found this exhausting and in my quest to make a positive difference to the culture of the organisations I have worked within, I have (with the support of some great colleagues) set up Employee Network Groups. The latest being the Ethnicity Inclusion Network at Leonardo UK.

The renewed focus on race, especially following the death of George Floyd, has helped accelerate the pace of learning and change. Our workforce is becoming more diverse, which means that our leaders of the future will need to be comfortable leading teams of diverse people from different backgrounds.  

For me, Black History Month is an opportunity to learn about, and reflect on how history has impacted the lives of black people in society, and how these impacts continue to manifest today. It is an opportunity to ask, what more we can do to encourage black people to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work, and to celebrate the contributions black people have made in society.

Within the Ethnicity Inclusion Network, our focus is on being an insight-generating machine that encourages learning and reflection across the organisation. I am grateful for the opportunity to facilitate the highlighting of blind spots, and the sharing of insights as we work collectively to move the needle on inclusivity at Leonardo UK."


"I was born in England, hailing from the Windrush Generation to Caribbean parents, but moved to Jamaica at an early age. There I experienced all the richness of the culture and a great education system that gave me a wonderful sense of identity.

I experienced many personal challenges, but I had what Britain would call a middle-class upbringing, which enabled me to attend boarding school in Jamaica.

On returning to the UK as an adult, I found it to be quite intriguing in that my sense of self was so much more secure in comparison to the black British people that I encountered who may never have had the opportunity to experience anything outside of the UK

In the Caribbean, we covered world history in its entirety as the normal part of our education. We learned about our national heroes and kingdoms of Africa that we descended from and this gave us a sense of pride. This is something that I believe should be taught in all schools all year round as part of the curriculum in the UK so that everyone has access and not just during what is deemed Black History Month.

In the UK, the black British experience is entirely different. You are labelled as a minority, have to explain your intelligence and vast knowledge of the world, and are not given the same opportunities as others in my experience. Our appearance seems to offend or is not understood and therefore certain prejudices occur.

Having said that, I have worked at Leonardo for the past 17 years in the Finance Department in a great team within various roles but have ensured that I am seen for who I am and what I’m capable of –and I feel very much liked and appreciated for that.

If anyone can take anything from this, I would hope it is to integrate with all cultures, learn about and accept persons, as they are, whatever the gender. I would love to see more in-person events forecasting all cultures. We are all human beings and should be treated equally without discrimination. I think I speak on behalf of all when I say all anyone really wants is for this world to be a better place!"


"I am a first-generation immigrant, born in Zimbabwe and raised in Wiltshire. I moved to the UK in the 2000s during a time when Zimbabwe was experiencing political and financial upheaval. The decision to move to the UK was one made with a view to providing me a life of more opportunity.

Growing up in Wiltshire, I quickly became immersed in British life. My upbringing was a fusion of British and Zimbabwean culture. Zimbabwean food, music and values were and are still very much engrained in my daily life. As there wasn’t a strong African community where I grew up at that time, it was important for me hold onto my roots.

Education has always been of high importance in my family, and I’ve always felt that the sacrifices made on behalf of myself to access better opportunities put a certain responsibility on me to succeed. I consciously value the people that I have met on my journey, the doors that have opened to me and the opportunities that I have had in order to get me to where I am today.

My strength and commitment to my career comes from the strength of my family’s sacrifices as well as the many individuals that I have met and worked with from different backgrounds. I am lucky to have had the chance to create a network for myself, I highly value being in a workplace that champions diversity and values the benefit that diverse experiences can bring."


"My grandparents are from the island of Carriacou, which is part of Grenada in the Caribbean. The island is home to approximately 8,000 people. Both my mum and my dad were born in England, but were taken back to Carriacou in their early years.

My mother's father arrived in Bedford, England in 1958 and followed shortly after by my grandmother in 1959. My mother was one of eight children and was taken back home at four years old to live with family for a few years. She was joined by some of her brothers and sisters while her mum worked hard in England at the George Fisher casting factory and my Grandfather worked at Bachelors food factory before moving to work at Vauxhall motors in Luton.

My father was born in Huddersfield, and on his return to England he finished school in Huddersfield and moved to Bedford in 1980. He also began working in Vauxhall before moving onto other manufacturing plants around the area. Both sets of Grandparents later returned to Carriacou, Grenada once they had retired - which was great for me as it meant regular trips to visit!

I was born in Bedford, and went to school here before leaving to attend Hertfordshire University where I studied Human Resource Management (HRM). I then returned home and not long after went on to study my PgDip in HRM at University of Bedfordshire. I joined Leonardo in 2018 as a Recruitment Administrator for Engineering coming from a Healthcare background after working in the NHS for over 10 years - so this was whole new world for me. I have met a lot of great people and also learnt a lot during my time here."

Ethnicity Inclusion network group

Ethnicity Inclusion network group

Leonardo UK's Ethnicity Inclusion network group supports the company in attracting, recruiting and retaining talent from ethnic minority communities that will create a better and fair ethnicity balance within Leonardo at all levels.